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Winne Madikizela-Mandela  Found Guilty Of Fraud And Theft - 2003-04-24

A former researcher for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission says the conviction of controversial politician Winnie Madikizela-Mandela does not come as a surprise.

Professor John Daniel, who currently directs research at the Human Science Research Council in Durban, attributes Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s conviction to a combination of what he calls strong evidence by the prosecution and a very weak defense by her legal team.

Professor Daniel feels Ms. Mandela’s controversial past had no bearing on this week’s court ruling. He says prosecutors thought very carefully about bringing this case, and did so after the evidence against her seemed overwhelming.

The South African researcher says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s principle of “forgive and forget” applied only to human rights violations with a political motivation, and not to Ms. Madikizela-Mandela’s case.

He says the charges centered on what he called flagrant and willful abuse of a position of trust – charges that require legal remedy. The researcher predicts Ms. Madikizela-Mandela will end up serving some prison time, signaling, he says, the end of her political career.

Professor Daniel spoke from Durban with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje.